A week or so ago, I scheduled to publish this morning. I didn’t even think about the date. It went live, but I later changed it because it really didn’t feel right to just breeze over the heartbreaking results of the US presidential election.

I don’t even know what to say. And a million others will say it more eloquently than I could. But I do know that when I’m having a hard time understanding the world we live in, I go searching for perspective and I always find it in the universe. As somone who dreams about space and obsesses over our absurdly microscopic place in it, the Pale Blue Dot by the legendary Carl Sagan is my north star (pun intended).

I’m hoping it will make us all feel a little bit better and remind us that loving and accepting people no matter what and protecting the only cosmic home we’ve ever known is what is truly important.

This image of Earth is one of 60 frames taken by the Voyager I spacecraft on February 14, 1990 from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) and about 32 degrees above the elliptical plane. In the image, Earth is a mere point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size.
Look again at that dot.
That’s here. 
That’s home.
That’s us. 

On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you have ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggreage of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. 

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

To me,
it underscores our responsibility to
deal more kindly with one another,
and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot,
the only home we’ve ever known. 

4 thoughts on “Perspective

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s